Louisiana Parish Officials and NGOs Work Together to Develop a Strategy for Large-Scale Restoration

By Chris Pulaski, National Wildlife Federation

Restore or Retreat and the National Wildlife Federation hosted the first “Lafourche and Terrebonne Allied Restoration Summit for Non-Governmental Organizations” on August 3 in Houma, La. The summit was designed to facilitate a discussion on how and where the local, state and federal non-governmental organization (NGO) community can work with Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes to achieve common restoration goals for large-scale projects. Several of the NGOs present agreed to participate in further detailed discussions with the parishes on projects ranging from sediment delivery from the Atchafalaya River to western and central Terrebonne to barrier island restoration in Lower Lafourche.

Reggie Dupre, Director of Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District, addresses summit attendees.

More than 60 people attended the summit, including panelists from Restore or Retreat, National Wildlife Federation, Louisiana Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, BISCO (Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing), Ducks Unlimited, Gulf Restoration Network, Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Coastal 5+1 and many more. In addition to the panelists, several local and regional stakeholders, engineers and elected officials were in the audience.

Speakers included Jerome Zeringue and Natalie Snider from the State of Louisiana’s Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration, Lafourche and Terrebonne Coastal Zone Directors, the North and South Lafourche and Terrebonne Levee & Conservation District Directors and LSU’s Coastal Sustainability Studio.

The afternoon discussion session covered topics such as restoration priorities for the State and Parishes, and how NGOs could become involved either through letters of support, comments or data. State Department of Natural Resources Assistant Secretary Lou Buatt commented on new conservation initiatives and mitigation requirements of the levee districts. Ms. Snider led a strategy discussion including updates on the 2012 Master Plan, Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), Clean Water Act penalties and the RESTORE Act.